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Outdoor Space Improvement: Elkin

Population 4,091

The Elkin RailYard, located at 203 West Depot Alley, was once a residential property, however, the house was removed in the 1990s, and the lot had been vacant and overgrown since that time.

Virgil and Mitzi Settle purchased the lot with a vision to create an outdoor beer garden, reminiscent of the beer gardens found in Europe. After the pandemic, it became clear that the community valued opportunities for dining and drinking outdoors, and they engaged the services of North State Design Group and Wall Landscaping to help bring their vision to fruition.

The shaded downtown lot sits at the junction of the Yadkin Valley Railroad line and the historic Elkin and Allegheny rail line and utilizes shipping containers as design elements. The RailYard seemed like the perfect name for the business. The trees provide shade and an umbrella of protection from the elements over the seating areas throughout the property. A covered pavilion was built, and Bavarian beer garden tables were added, a stage was built for live music, and a combination of sod and gravel was laid to make the space comfortable and accessible. Gas fire pits and lots of seating were added. LED string lights provide illumination at night, and a sound system provides background music. Danny Kerr, a local artist, blacksmith, and owner of Mountain High Metals, was hired to create the tap handles out of railroad spikes and to create the entryway arch at Front St with their RailYard logo at the top.

The use of shipping containers was a new concept for the downtown district, but the project enhances the history of Elkin’s rail line and compliments the Elkin and Alleghany Rail Trails that meander from the municipal park to Main Street along the Mountain to Sea Trail. Trail promotion and businesses related to trails are a major economic development strategy for the Elkin Main Street program and the Town of Elkin.

The RailYard investment was more than $413,000 and the business created four new jobs. On average, 600-800 customers a week are served at the RailYard, bringing foot traffic to the downtown district; and the success of the business was the catalyst for the Elkin Social District.

*Elkin won an NC Main Street Award for this project


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